More of us are using them these days: debit cards.
They look just like credit cards, but when you charge on them the money comes right out of your checking account. But NBCLA has found that fraud involving debit cards is on the rise.
Banking experts, like Dr. Robert Manning of the Rochester Institute of Technology, say criminals are finding new ways to steal your debit number and PIN, and take money right out of your checking account.
It happened to security guard Ricky Salazar. Last month, he tried using his debit card at a sandwich shop, and it was declined.
"I was confused because I didn’t see a reason for my card not to be working," says Salazar.
He immediately went to Chase Bank, which told him he was a victim of fraud.
"Somebody got ahold of my PIN number and account number, says Salazar.
Whoever had stolen his number, began withdrawing money from Ricky’s account at ATMs, and charging items at retail stores, and the money came right out of his checking account.
SecuritySearch.com, which tracks this kind of fraud, says "ATM and debit card fraud is expected to grow 10 percent or more this year," even though "credit card fraud may get most of the publicity."
"The future of organized crime is going after debit cards, because they're newer and have less security precautions (than credit cards) in terms of hackers stealing those numbers," says Dr. Manning.
When Ricky Salazar’s debit card was compromised, Chase Bank immediately froze his account.
"They told me that everything should be taken care of within a matter of days," says Salazar.
But days turned into a month, of Salazar making almost daily phonecalls to Chase, to get access to the money in his checking account. He couldn’t even get access to his paycheck, which had been direct-deposited.
"I’ve been living on nothing but my savings and having to borrow from friends and family," he says.
So what was taking Chase, a big national bank, so long to unfreeze Salazar's account?
"I ask them that every day. And, they seem to give me no answers," he says.
It was only after NBCLA called Chase Bank to question them about Ricky Salazar's account, that the bank fixed his problem and gave him access to his money. Chase says it was "human error" that it shouldn't have taken so long to fix Salazar's problem.
But Dr. Manning says banks often take a long time to rectify customer's problems which involve debit card fraud. Manning says banks sometimes suspect that criminals have hacked into their computers and stolen a large volume of debit card numbers, so they take their time to investigate and unfreeze accounts.
As for consumers, Chase Bank says if you suspect your debit card information has been stolen, immediately report it to your bank.